Dog bites can cause very serious injuries. Even smaller dogs’ mouths carry millions of strains of bacteria that can cause severe infections. Of course, larger dogs are capable of ripping flesh, tearing tendons, and breaking bones. However, Florida law states that just because a person is bitten by another person’s dog, the dog owner is not automatically responsible for any damage.
There are specific laws that lay out when a dog owner is liable for their dog’s actions and what steps they may take to limit their liability. Pasco County dog bite lawyers work with people bitten by dogs to answer their legal questions and to pursue the dog’s owner for compensation. If you have been injured by a dog bite, contact a distinguished personal injury lawyer to begin filing a claim.
Dog Bite Laws in Florida
Many people are familiar with the concept of one-bite-laws. In many states, dog owners are not responsible for the actions of their dogs if the dog has no history of violence. Florida is one state that has no such law. Florida Statute 767.04 states that a dog owner is liable for any damages caused by a bite in a public or private place. For the private place section to apply, the bitten person needed to have been on the land lawfully. As Pasco County dog bite lawyers know, trespassers cannot claim damages if they are bitten while on the land.
However, invited guests or workers, such as mailmen, can absolutely claim damages if attacked by a dog. The law specifically states that this is not a one-bite-law and that the prior history of the animal is irrelevant. A dog owner may avoid responsibility if they place a sign on their property that reads, “Bad Dog.” This essentially warns all people who are invited onto the land that the animal may bite. However, this does not completely absolve the dog owner if the bitten person is under the age of six, or if the dog owner was negligent in their keeping of the dog.
This negligence route argues that the dog’s owner knew that the dog was dangerous, had a responsibility to protect the bitten person, and by failing to properly handle the dog, the bite occurred. There are two ways that a bitten person may pursue a claim, under the automatic liability statute or under a traditional negligence claim. As in all personal injury cases, the liability of the dog owner may be reduced by the actions of the bitten person. If the plaintiff pursues their claim under the negligence theory, their award may be reduced by their own actions. Teasing the animal, or provoking it, will allow the defendant to argue that the bitten person was at least partially responsible for the attack. In such cases, their plaintiff’s award will be reduced by the percentage of their role in the incident.
Statute of Limitations in Dog Bite Cases
Potential plaintiffs should also be aware that the statute of limitations is four years under Florida Statute 95.11. If the case is not initiated in court in the four years following the attack, the case will be dismissed. Dog bite cases in Florida can be more complex than they first appear. People must consider where the bite happened, how old the bitten person was, what the bitten person was doing, and whether the dog owner placed any signs warning about the dog.
The answers to these questions determine the proper route to take in pursuing a case and this choice of route is the most important decision to make. Pasco County dog bite lawyers work with people who have been bitten by others’ dogs to understand the facts of their case and to choose the proper course of action.
By gathering the evidence, talking to any witnesses, and presenting our clients’ position from a place of strength, many cases settle without needing to go to court. In the rare event of a trial, our litigation team will present your case to the court with clarity and strength. Contact today to see how they can help you to get the compensation that you deserve.